History

Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII

Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife, was born at Düsseldorf on 22 September 1515, daughter of Johann III, Duke of Cleves, and his wife Marie. Anne married Henry at Greenwich on 6 January 1540 but the marriage was annulled in July of that year. He found she was not as attractive as her portrait had suggested and called her a 'Flanders mare'. The king gave her a handsome divorce settlement and she was on affectionate terms with the future Elizabeth I. She died at Chelsea on 18 July 1557. Mary I ordered her burial in the Abbey, and the magnificent funeral was conducted according to Catholic rites as Anne had wanted. She lies on the south side of the High Altar and her monument is a low stone structure of three sections with carvings showing her initials AC with a crown, lions' heads and skulls and crossed bones (symbols of mortality). It was probably made by Theodore Haveus of Cleves but was never finished. The back part of the tomb has been mostly obscured by later monuments. The inscription on the back, visible from the south transept, reads "Anne of Cleves Queen of England. Born 1515. Died 1557" but this was not added until the 1970s.

A photograph of her tomb can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library. Portraits of the Queen can be viewed on the National Portrait Gallery website. A drawing of her funeral procession is preserved at the British Library.